Court Rejects Controversial Request to Delay Cultural Resource Surveys in Utah's Red Rock Country
First of six legal challenges to federal land use plans that put priceless cultural artifacts and some of the most spectacular landscapes in America at risk
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, CO rejected a request by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to indefinitely delay surveys for cultural artifacts on public lands managed by BLM's Richfield Field Office in Utah.
In May of 2015, environmentalists and historic preservation advocates secured a victory when a Utah federal district court judge ordered BLM to conduct on-the-ground surveys to identify cultural artifacts in need of protection on more than 4,000 miles of dirt roads and trails where BLM has permitted off-road vehicles to be driven. The Tenth Circuit confirmed that BLM must comply.
The Richfield Field Office covers 2.1 million acres of red rock country in south-central Utah, largely sandwiched between Canyonlands National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. This land is held sacred by Native American tribes, including the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe. Thousands of significant cultural properties have been identified in the field office including structures, ceramics, petroglyphs and lithic scatters. In a land use plan adopted in late 2008, BLM gave the green light to off-road vehicles to drive on more than 4,000 miles of trails and tracks without first surveying them to ensure that these irreplaceable cultural resources would not be harmed by such use.
Read more about this victory, including a link to the court's decision, on our website
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